71. Paying Homage to the Harlem Globetrotters

Posted: February 28, 2010 in African American, Black entertainment, Black History, Black Pride
Tags: , , , ,

If you follow this blog you recall a series we did on the Harlem Renaissance, featuring Claude McKay, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and others.  On the last day of Black History Month it’s only fitting that we pay homage to the World Famous Harlem Globetrotters.

If by some chance you are totally oblivous; Harlem Globetrotters are an exhibition basketball team known for its athleticism, theater, comedy and high scoring games.

Those who know me are familiar with my opinionated quips (better known as D’s 2¢) know that I have a certain disdain for buffoonery.  Before we dismiss their antics as cooning, we must first be mindfully aware of the environment during which the G-Trotters were birthed.

Initially, the G-Trotters were a serious competitive team, and despite a flair for entertainment, they would only clown (or coon; depending on how you see it) for the audience after establishing a safe and sizable lead in any given game.  In 1939, they accepted an invitation to participate in the World Professional Basketball Tournament, where they met the New York Rens in the semi-finals in the first big clash of the two greatest all-Black professional basketball teams. The Rens defeated the G-Trotters and went on to win the Tournament, but in 1940 the G-Trotters avenged their loss by defeating the Rens in the quarterfinals and advancing to the championship game, where they beat the Chicago Bruins in overtime by a score of 37–36.

The G-Trotters gradually worked comic routines into their act until they became known more for entertainment than sports.  The G-Trotters’ acts often feature incredible coordination and skillful handling of one or more basketballs, such as passing or juggling balls between players, balancing or spinning balls on their fingertips, and making unusual, difficult shots.

It is not uncommon for Blacks to create an industry with their gifts.  Basketball, a game originate by Dr. James Naismith was not created with Black in mind.  However, having evolved into a sport where extreme coordination, jumping, ball-handling and the combination of strength and grace are paramount; it was only a matter of time before game transcended from its origin.

Predating modern day millionaires like MJ, Kobe and Lebron; pioneers like Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neale, Marques Haynes and Wilt Chamberlain were all instrumental in transforming the game into what we see it today: Entertaining spectator competitive sports.  And let’s not forget that they are the only professional sports team (to my knowledge) to have a cartoon series and a comic book.

Although the G-Trotters are not what they once were (which is largely due to the high flying acts of the NBA in physical play and mass media marketing), but they will always be considered a significant part of our history and the history of the game we consider FANTASTIC.

D’s 2¢

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Comments
  1. Kelly says:

    I do remember the Globetrotters… I do believe my dad took me long time ago to the Olympia to see them. I was young. Thanks for the memories D… I thought Curly was funny

  2. ANONYMOUS says:

    GREAT FEATURE. THE GLOBETROTTERS ARE A CLEAR EXAMPLE OF MAKING AN OPPORTUNITY FROM NOTHING. I ALSO LIKE THE WAY THE GUYS FROM “AND 1” HAVE TAP INTO THE BASKETBALL MARKET.

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